The Fingerboards project is a proposal by Kalbar Operations Pty Ltd to construct an open cut mine on highly erosive soils and in very close proximity to the Mitchell and Perry Rivers. Both rivers flow into the Gippsland Lakes, wetlands recognised as being of international significance under the Ramsar Convention.
By mining an area of more than 1,600 hectares over a projected mine life of 20 years, Kalbar seek to extract approximately 170 million tonnes of ore to produce around 8 million tonnes of mineral concentrate for export overseas.
In light of the potential for significant environmental effects, an Environment Effects Statement (EES) was prepared for the project. More than 900 submissions were made in response to the public exhibition of the EES, with members of the community raising concerns about:
- contamination of waterways and excessive extraction of water
- risks associated with the particular landscape proposed to be mined (i.e. the soils are highly erosive and prone to collapse)
- risks from exposure to nasty toxics (including radiation)
- loss of native vegetation and habitat for threatened species, and
- general dislocation from a community and landscape that they love and call home.
An Inquiry and Advisory Committee will now review the submissions and make findings on the environmental impacts of the project, with formal public hearings scheduled to commence from 3 May 2021. On behalf of Mine-free Glenaladale, EJA will be strongly opposing the project at the public hearings, arguing that the environmental effects of the project are unacceptable.
Following the public hearings, the Inquiry and Advisory Committee will provide a report to the Minister for Planning which will set out its conclusions on the potential environmental effects of the project, their significance and acceptability.
Further information about the Fingerboards mineral sands mine project EES, including access to all public submissions, is available at Engage Victoria.